The All-Time Houston Astros Team – By Season

by JohnBowen

Continuing in my series of the best seasons at every position for every team, I decided to look at another NL Central franchise that has had better days: the Houston Astros. For those that are wondering, this includes players that were around when they were the Colt .45’s. Take a special look at the rotation, and especially some of the players that couldn’t make it.

Starting Lineup

Catcher: Joe Ferguson, 1977

Joe Ferguson played just one full year in the Astrodome, which was lucky for him because it must have been tough for those rainbow uniforms to make him feel like a man, Major League catcher or not. His patience at the plate helped produce a .379 on-base percentage and his arm behind it enabled him to throw out a solid 39% of base runners.

1st Base: Jeff Bagwell, 1994

Unlike most players (Griffey, Belle, Thomas, Williams, Bonds) who were dominating during the 1994 season, Jeff Bagwell actually benefited from the strike. Why? Well, he had had his hand broken by a pitch, resulting in a season-ending injury on August 10; the next day, the season ended. Had the season played out, it is unlikely that Bagwell would have won the league MVP award, despite a .368/.451/.750 line with a league leading 213 OPS+ as well as league leading totals of 104 runs scored and 116 RBI (in just 400 PA). But since he accumulated around as many games and plate appearances as any one else, he won the award unanimously.

2nd Base: Craig Biggio, 1997

The most important job of a leadoff hitter is to reach base and the second most important job is to run the bases well – using both speed and base-running instincts – to score runs. Well, in the 1990’s, Biggio was as good in a class by himself in that regard among National League leadoff hitters. In 1997, Biggio hit .309 with a .415 on-base percentage, and was 47/57 in stolen base attempts. His abilities along with Jeff Bagwell’s production resulted in him scoring 146 runs – the most runs scored in the National League since Chuck Klein in 1932.

3rd Base: Morgan Ensberg, 2005

Houston’s pitching – which included Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Roy Oswalt – was the main driving force in taking the Astros to their first pennant in 2005. But Bagwell on the disabled list all year and Berkman having a less dominant season than usual, Houston’s tremendous staff might have been stuck watching the Phillies compete for that pennant. Morgan Ensberg wasn’t about to let that happen; during the season, he hit 36 homers and drove in 101 to finish fourth in the MVP voting and then drove in seven runs in four games against the Braves in the NLDS en route to the first World Series appearance in team history.

Shortstop: Dickie Thon, 1983

At the age of 25, Dickie Thon had the kind of year that caused some to pronounce him a future Hall-of-Famer. In just his second full season, the shortstop hit .286 with 20 homeruns and 34 stolen bases, winning a silver slugger and finishing seventh in the league in MVP voting. Early the next season, however, Thon suffered a severe injury to his orbital bone on a hit-by-pitch. He was never the same; frankly it was amazing that he came back and was able to play for nine more seasons is remarkable in and of itself.

Leftfield: Moises Alou, 1998

After helping the Florida Marlins win the 1997 World Series, Moises Alou was traded for three pitchers who would combine for 57 career games after the trade. Alou adapted well to his new surroundings and lineup by hitting .312/.399/.582 with a 157 OPS+, 38 homeruns, and 124 RBI. The successful season with his new team resulted in a third place finish in the MVP voting, behind Misters Sosa and McGwire.

Centerfield: Jim Wynn, 1969

Jim Wynn played in one of the worst hitter environments imaginable during the first eleven seasons of his career; much of it was spent in an era of pitcher’s dominance, while playing in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks, the Astrodome. This made his .269/.436/.507 line that much more impressive. Neutralized for the Astros first season at Enron (remember that?) Field, Wynn’s statistics come out to .328/.508/.620, with 44 homers, 118 RBI’s, and 153 runs scored.

Rightfield: Lance Berkman, 2004

I think Berkman had a couple of better years, but using his 2004 season – when he mainly played rightfield – was the best way to maximize the team as a whole. Berkman was instrumental in helping the Astros get to their first NLCS since 1986, putting up a .450 on-base percentage and finishing 6th in the league with a 159 OPS+.

Batting Order

Biggio (R)

Wynn (R)

Bagwell (R)

Berkman (B)

Alou (R)

Ensberg (R)

Thon (R)

Ferguson (R)

Starting Rotation

RHP – Mike Scott, 1986

Mike Scott was flat-out remarkable during the 1986 season, leading the league with a 161 ERA+, 0.923 WHIP, 306 strikeouts, 275.1 innings pitched, 5 shutouts, and a 4.25 K/BB ratio. In other words, every meaningful category for a pitcher. He edged out Fernando Valenzuela for the Cy Young award in what should not have been a close contest and his efforts during the season were key in getting the Astros to the NLCS. There, he dominated the NLCS about as much as he possibly could have; Scott completed both his starts, giving up just 1 run, 1 walk, 8 hits while striking out 19 to earn both Astros’ wins. He pitched five more seasons and then became the regional manager of a northeastern paper sales company.

RHP – Roger Clemens, 2005

In 2004, Roger Clemens benefited from the voters’ then-obsession with the almighty “win” statistic, winning the Cy Young despite superior seasons from Randy Johnson, Ben Sheets and Carlos Zambrano because of a glitzy 18-4 record. The next season (at the age of 42!), Clemens went 13-8 but was clearly the best pitcher in the National League, posting a league-best 1.87 ERA which translates to the 12th best ERA+ of all-time. He finished just third in the Cy Young voting that season, so he had to settle with having just two more Cy Youngs than anyone else in history.

RHP – Larry Dierker, 1969

After the 1968 season – where pitchers dominated the Majors – the mound was lowered and the strike zone was adjusted to accommodate higher offense. Larry Dierker, who would one day manage the Astros, didn’t appear bothered by the changes. The righty went 20-13 with a 152 ERA+ over 305.1 innings while finishing 3rd in WHIP and 6th in strikeouts.

LHP – Andy Pettitte, 2005

Andy Pettitte retired last week, clamoring many Yankee fans to obsessively clamor that he should make the Hall-of-Fame. Well, he shouldn’t. But if he had had more seasons like 2005, a great argument could have been made in his favor. Once again, Andy Pettitte wasn’t the best pitcher on his own team (see above) but he was arguably the second best pitcher in his league, posting the second-best ERA+ at 177 and the third-best WHIP at 1.030.

RHP – Nolan Ryan, 1981

It was tough for me to pull the trigger on this one, because 1981 was a strike season, and there were so many good starters (Don Wilson, Darryl Kile, J.R. Richard, Roy Oswalt, Mike Hampton) who could have made it. Still, it’s tough to picture a way that Nolan Ryan could have been more dominant in 1981, albeit in just 149 innings. Ryan posted a league-best 195 ERA+ that season and, incredibly, gave up just two homeruns all year.

Bench

C – Brad Ausmus, 1997: Just an 83 OPS+, but very few were better behind the plate.

1B – Glenn Davis, 1989: Third in NL with 34 dingers

2B – Joe Morgan, 1965: At age 21, had the discipline to lead league with 97 walks. At age 48, thought walks were stupid.

IF – Denis Menke, 1970: .304 batting average with .392 OBP and 92 RBI’s; played 6 positions.

OF – Richard Hidalgo, 2000: .636 slugging percentage, 42 doubles and 44 homers in breakout year

OF – Cesar Cedeno, 1972: .320/.385/.537 with 39 doubles, 22 homers, and 55 stolen bases.

OF – Jose Cruz, 1984: Led league with 10 sacrifice flies; fourth in NL with 145 OPS+

Bullpen

Closer – Billy Wagner, 1999: Struck out 124 batters in just 74.2 innings

Setup – Octavio Dotel, 2002: Actually was a setup man; had 10.9 K/9 with 0.873 WHIP

Fireman/LHP – Hal Woodeshick, 1963: Lone “Colt .45” on the team threw 114 relief innings and won or saved 21 of team’s 66 victories

RHP – Brad Lidge, 2004: Took over setup job when Dotel became closer, then took over closer when Dotel was traded. Oh, and 14.9 K/9.

RHP – Dave Smith, 1987: 239 ERA+ and 1.000 WHIP; one-inning closer before Eckersley.

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130 Responses to “The All-Time Houston Astros Team – By Season”

  1. Lefty33 Says:

    “Mike Scott was flat-out remarkable during the 1986 season”

    The only thing remarkable about his season was how much ball-doctoring he got away with.

    I swear that scene in The Naked Gun where Drebin finds everything from emery boards to power tools at the mound was based on Scott’s career.

  2. Chuck Says:

    Bagwell, Biggio, Ensberg, Alou, Hidalgo, Pettitte..

    Don’t want to start the steriod thing again, but…..

    No JR Richard?

  3. Raul Says:

    You know, I never got the feeling that Moises Alou was a juicer.
    It’s definitely possible, especially looking at him hitting 39 homers at age 37 in 2004.

    But for the most part, he was a good doubles hitter who had decent home run power.

    I would be disappointed to learn he did steroids. But I hope he did not.

  4. Hartvig Says:

    Two guys that I’m happy to see on the list:

    Dickie Thon- Ranks in the top 10 and possibly top 5 of “what could have been” careers with Pete Reiser, Tony Conigliaro, Herb Score and a few others but largely forgotten by most.

    Brad Ausmus- As abysmal as his offense could be, I think he is hands down the best catcher I have ever seen at handling pitching staffs. I would love to see someone do a career study (since I’m too lazy to do it) to see how much better pitchers Earned Run Averages were with him behind the plate.

  5. Chuck Says:

    “I would love to see someone do a career study (since I’m too lazy to do it) to see how much better pitchers Earned Run Averages were with him behind the plate.”

    I nominate Shaun

  6. Cameron Says:

    “Dickie Thon- Ranks in the top 10 and possibly top 5 of “what could have been” careers with Pete Reiser, Tony Conigliaro, Herb Score and a few others but largely forgotten by most.”

    One of the first names that came to mind when you said that was Lyman Bostock.

  7. brautigan Says:

    I’d take J.R. Richard’s 1978 season ahead of Petitte. I mean, J.R. had 302 strikeouts and opposing hitters hit .196 off him.

    He was just a little bit good.

  8. Cameron Says:

    Is it sad to think that the Astros have like, 10 viable starters for this all-time team and now their pitching is absolutely laughable?

  9. JohnBowen Says:

    Brautigan,

    Pettitte had the better WHIP, ERA+ and K/BB ratio (Richard also led the league in walks that year…and yes, I know, Ryan made the rotation).

    Richard’s next season was better than 1978 though; won the league ERA and strikeout crowns while cutting 43 walks such that he led the league in K/BB ratio. The league had a 58 OPS+ against him that year. That season was close.

  10. brautigan Says:

    Also, honorable mention to Don Wilson (1971) and Rusty Staub (1967).

    Staub batted .333 in ‘67, and hit 44 doubles. Only Lou Brock (46) and Frank Robinson (52) hit more doubles in a single season in the 60’s than Staub (I’m only counting the National League, and I also should note that Lee Maye also hit 44 doubles in a single season as well). (Carl Yastrezemski and Zorro Versalles both hit 45 doubles in 1965 and Floyd Robinson hit 45 a couple of years earlier).

  11. JohnBowen Says:

    Rusty Staub is the only player with 500+ hits with four different teams.

  12. Chuck Says:

    When putting together a list of the top five guys screwed by the HOF, Staub is on it.

    He’s more deserving than Santo or Raines.

    I know why he’s not in, but I ani’t telling.

    I’m sure Braut does, too.

  13. JohnBowen Says:

    Gay?

    Staub was fine. Nothing about his career jumps out at me as HOF worthy.

    He certainly didn’t steal 808 bases at an 85% rate.

  14. Raul Says:

    You might say it’s a cherry-picked number but Manny Ramirez is the only player with 800+ RBI for 2 teams.

  15. JohnBowen Says:

    From 1998 to 2001, Ramirez played in 557 games. He had 557 RBI.

  16. Raul Says:

    Well, from 1967 to 1976 Rusty Staub put up an OPS+ of 137. That’s very impressive for a stretch that long, and it’s better than any 10 year stretch Tim Raines posted.

    Hey I’m not saying Staub belongs in the HOF, but if it’s SO CLEAR that Tim Raines belongs, like some of you say, then surely Staub has to make an equally clear argument.

  17. Cameron Says:

    Rusty Staub is gay? The fuck did this happen?

  18. Raul Says:

    I don’t know dude. Pretty much everybody is gay at some point. Like men in the navy, or women in college or something.

  19. JohnBowen Says:

    Lol, I was just speculating as to why it’s some nebulous reason that Chuck mentioned why Staub isn’t in the HOF.

    “Like men in the navy”

    Hey!

    Frankly, the reason he’s not in is he was a very very good, but not great player.

    From April 9, 1981 to June 10, 1981, Tim Raines stole 48 bases. That’s more than Rusty Staub stole in a 53 game span. Excuse me, what’s that statboy? (I have a personal assistant named statboy). Oh. Actually, that’s more stolen bases than Staub stole in his entire career.

    I mean, it’s apples and oranges really. I don’t wanna get into another Raines debate. I’ll just say that I argue for him because, as a baseball game, there aren’t a lot of feelings sweeter than having a guy on second and no one out. You know that guy has a great chance to score; hell, he has a reasonable chance to score with the next two guys making outs.

  20. Hartvig Says:

    So, I suspect, do I.

  21. Raul Says:

    No Astros article is complete without a little mention of Lima Time.

  22. Hartvig Says:

    Geez, when I typed my comment it was right under Chuck’s. I guess it wasn’t a very big secret, after all.

  23. JohnBowen Says:

    Wait, that’s really it?

  24. Chuck Says:

    “He certainly didn’t steal 808 bases at an 85% rate.”

    Young and slow.

    Takes ALOT more than that to be a HOFer.

    “I guess it wasn’t a very big secret, after all.”

    He had an affair with a teammate who some believe is HOF worthy.

    I ain’t telling you his name either, although I’ll give you a hint.

    Played the same position as #23 with the team from the Bronx.

  25. JohnBowen Says:

    “Takes ALOT more than that to be a HOFer.”

    We’re not going to convince each other. Everyone has a different set of HOF criteria; I happen to place a lot of value on a guy standing on second base with no one out, and subsequently doing that more times than just about anyone else.

  26. Cameron Says:

    You know… I’m starting to get the writing bug again. Guys got any suggestions for me?

  27. Raul Says:

    I think Curt Flood should be in the Hall of Fame.

  28. Cameron Says:

    RIP Gino Cimoli.

  29. Hartvig Says:

    Cameron- Anything but Tim Raines for the HOF… How ’bout the 2013 Royals?

    Curt Flood seems to be a really interesting guy. But he can’t go in to the HOF before Marvin Miller. Maybe they could go in together.

    And thanks for bringing up Jose, the 2 time Detroit Tiger. He would have made a wonderful rotation “anchor” for the historically bad 2003 team but alas, it was not meant to be.

  30. Hartvig Says:

    Chuck

    “He had an affair with a teammate who some believe is HOF worthy.

    I ain’t telling you his name either, although I’ll give you a hint.

    Played the same position as #23 with the team from the Bronx.”

    Ed Kranepool does NOT hit for the home team…

    Kidding;)

  31. Mike Felber Says:

    Those guys should go in Hartvig. There is still much vicious prejudice against gays in sports, but I agree that Staub was not quite HOF worthy-& that Raines was historically good for a while, & did enough overall.

    A coworker who had a bit of a law enforcement fetish took me to an event next to Shea Stadium once & he gave some kind of impassioned description of a charity cause to Staub, who seemed moved by it. Seems like a good guy.

  32. Chuck Says:

    Gonna go hang out at Royals camp on Wednesday for an hour or so, Cameron.

  33. Cameron Says:

    Sweet. Tell me how the kids look, Chuck.

  34. Chuck Says:

    Yeah, no problem. I don’t know if I’ll be there long enough to get anything worthy of an article, but I’ll definitely get you something.

  35. Raul Says:

    Is Pujols going to get a deal done today or not?

    And if he doesn’t, what does that mean for the Cardinals?

  36. Chuck Says:

    “Is Pujols going to get a deal done today or not?”

    Probably not.

    “And if he doesn’t, what does that mean for the Cardinals?”

    Nothing.

    Plenty of time to get something done, and just because Pujols said he won’t talk publicly or negotiate after tomorrow doesn’t mean his agent isn’t.

    There’s no chance Albert leaves St. Louis.

    Tim Raines will get in the HOF before Albert wears another uniform.

  37. JohnBowen Says:

    “Tim Raines will get in the HOF before Albert wears another uniform.”

    You heard it here first.

    Albert Pujols will pull a Favre in 2020 or so.

    And then in 2022, the Cardinals will win their first World Series since 2006.

  38. Cameron Says:

    Somehow I didn’t see this.

    Yu Darvish was married to the highest-paid actress in Japan. Currently, they’re going through divorce proceedings. As a result, Darvish plans to make himself available to the MLB for the 2012 season.

  39. Raul Says:

    Talk about a team with some insane contracts.

    This is what the Cubs are paying:

    Ryan Dempster – 13.5 million
    Carlos Silva – 12.75 million
    Kerry Wood – 10.5 million
    Carlos Zambrano – 18.875 million
    Carlos Pena – 10.125 million
    Aramis Ramirez – 16.75 million
    Kosuke Fukudome – 14 million
    Alfonso Soriano – 19 million

    That’s 115.5 million.

    I guess up until last season, only Aramis Ramirez appeared to be coming somewhat close to earning his money.

    But I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that the true value of all of those players is half of what they’re currently earning.

  40. Bob Says:

    “Albert Pujols will pull a Favre in 2020 or so.” Basball has no cheerleaders for him to Sext. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  41. Raul Says:

    I’m not so sure I’d be very willing to dole out money for Yu Darvish.

    Japan has sent some very good players to MLB: Hideo Nomo, Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki…but between the posting fees and the contracts, it just hasn’t been worth it for a lot of guys.

    Daisuke Matsuzaka is a heck of a talent. When he’s not walking guys and throwing junk, he can be quite dominant. But the Redsox paid something like 100 million between his contract and his posting fee.

    It’s just not worth it.

  42. JohnBowen Says:

    For a long time, Aramis Ramirez was, as far as I’m concerned, one of the most underrated players in the game.

    I don’t know if the stats verify this, but whenever Aramis Ramirez faces the Brewers, it seems like he just crushes us when the game is on the line.

    But, to your point Raul…

    The Cubs are one of the worst – if not the worst – run team in MLB.

  43. Chuck Says:

    I just saw a guy at the Post Office with a Cooperstown Collection Bo Jackson 1985 Royals throwback jersey.

    I’ve seen Bo Jackson more times than I’ve seen anyone wearing his jersey.

    Royals pitchers and catchers reported today, although no on-field activities until tomorrow.

    Guy must be a die-hard.

  44. Cameron Says:

    I know they’re bringing Salvador Perez into camp this year. All the pitchers have signed in before reporting dates and out of the 33 guys KC’s bringing, there’s 4 catchers.

    Brayan Pena
    Manny Pina
    Lucas May
    Salvador Perez

    Jason Kendall’s still hurt.

  45. Raul Says:

    You can argue about it, but based on the things I’ve read and seen, Bo Jackson was the greatest athlete ever.

  46. Chuck Says:

    I like Salvador Perez.

    Dude’s got a cannon.

    He picked Dustin Ackley off first base in an AFL game, he wasn’t more than five, six feet off the bag and Perez nailed him.

  47. Cameron Says:

    From what I’ve heard, Perez is just about average offensively for a catcher, but that glove is what’s forcing Myers’ move to the OF just as much as Myers’ bat.

  48. Bob Says:

    in the interest of spacing out article, I will submit my East previe on Wednesday. Is that cool?

  49. brautigan Says:

    No argument from me Raul. I’ve seen Jackson play pro football (and he was dominant in that game) and I’ve Bo take batting practice in Tempe and quite frankly, I have never seen anyone hit a baseball so far with such consistency EVER. And I’ve seen a whole lot of BP in my lifetime, but Bo Jackson was just AMAZING to watch.

  50. Raul Says:

    For the record, I don’t think the Cardinals should give Albert Pujols a 30 million dollar per-year contract.

    Yes, he’s great.
    Yes, he might be a once in a generation talent.

    It is simply too much money to tie into one player.

  51. brautigan Says:

    …but if Jayson Werth can make $126 million (7 years), what is Pujol’s worth?

    I mean, these contracts are getting more and more ridiculous. There needs to be some fiscal sanity somewhere…….doesn’t there?

  52. Raul Says:

    I read somewhere that Kendry Morales may not be ready for the season.

    I’m sorry, but this is outrageous. Morales broke his ankle May 29th, 2010.
    It does not take that long for a broken ankle to heal. Quite frankly, I’d be pissed if I was a member of the Angels. You’re a professional ballplayer. What kind of half-assed rehab were you going through? And besides, you’re a first baseman. How much running do you really need to do? Six feet left and right?

    Get rid of him. As soon as possible.

    I know I’m over-reacting, but seriously? I’ve seen players get shot and come back faster than that.

  53. Hartvig Says:

    I wonder if professional sports franchises are going down the same road as housing & dot coms & even baseball cards. Salaries keep going up because people are willing to pay but already a lot of people that used to comprise baseballs fan base have been priced out of the market- even the cheapest season ticket seats in almost every market are at least $1000 and most are in the $2 to $5K range- and can reach over $20K. And that’s only a fraction of what luxury boxes go for. Even going to a single game for a family is probably going to cost a minimum of $200. It wouldn’t surprise me if at some point the whole damned thing comes crashing down. I think it’s happened already to some extent in hockey and basketball might be showing a few cracks. Baseball could be next. I think I’d rather live in a market where there’s a well run minor league team and you can go to as many games as time will allow and you don’t have to break the bank to do it.

    It would cost just under $10 million dollars for 24 players at the major league minimum. If you took $30 million out of San Diego’s payroll you would would have an additional $4 million to play with (over the minimum). Tampa Bay would have approximately $10 million. Five other teams would have less than $25 million. That kind of payroll difference can’t be good for the long term health of the game.

  54. Hartvig Says:

    Ankles can be funny though. Mostly thru football & rugby I’ve broken or screwed up almost everything possible from a fractured skull to a broken foot including a fully ruptured achilles tendon. Yet a severe ankle sprain (that I got from stepping in a hole while running) bothered me for longer than else. In fact, I have a lingering suspicion that it may have played a role in the achilles rupture well over a decade later.

  55. Raul Says:

    Hartvig,

    I went to 2 games when the new Yankee Stadium opened. I’ll probably never go to another.

    The nose-bleeds are $45. The beers are $12. Hotdogs are like $5 and may have gone up.

    If you try to get playoff tickets, you’ll spend over $100 and not even be at the Mezzanine level. All field-level tickets are corporate. I’m pretty sure I saw George W. Bush with Nolan Ryan at the playoffs last fall, and even the President couldn’t get front-row seats.

    In the mid-90s when I went to my first game (I know, I’m young), we spent something like $42 for the section just behind the “championship” seats in the Old Yankee Stadium. And by the way, it was a double-header vs. Cleveland and yes, we stayed for both games.

  56. brautigan Says:

    Raul: I used to take mentally ill adults with me to games at Candlestick in San Francisco circa 1987-89. We used to go on Wednesday afternoons. We all paid a dollar each to get in (yes, you read that right, a dollar each) and sit in the left field bleachers. It was the best of times.

    Then in Portland, it was $4 for a general admission ticket, then it was $5, then $6 until finally last year, it was $9. Which is not bad, but consider there was no decent place to park, food and drink was lousy and expensive, and watching a baseball game at the ol’ Civic just sucked. SO, while I was sad to see Portland lose it’s team, it was not a grand exerience and we were overpaying just to watch AAA ball.

    I prefer to watch games in Fresno, Stockton, Sacramento and Modesto. The last Major League game I went to was the all star game in New York City. And yes, I paid a boat load of money for that pleasure.

  57. Raul Says:

    Were you in the stadium for Hamilton’s show?

  58. John Says:

    I see baseball games at…

    Milwaukee County Stadium (RIP)
    Oakland Colosseum
    Miller Park
    US Cellular Field
    Camden Yards
    Petco Park
    Anaheim Stadium
    Kaufman Stadium
    Coors Field
    Nationals Park

    I have also been to both Veteran’s Stadium and RFK, but both for college football.

    Best Park is easily Petco.
    Worst is Oakland, easily.

  59. brautigan Says:

    No. I watched that from The Metro with a bottle of gin. We made an effort to crash the Hall of Fame gig at the Museum of Modern Art, but there was no way we were going to sneak into that affair. The security was mind boggling, so we went back to our room and watched Hamilton bomb away. Afterwards, we went out for a bite to eat and ran into Chris Mullen. Then Salomen Rushdie.

    We went to the Future’s Game and got excellent seats for the game. It was a nice, 90 degree day, and the pitchers were lights out. I had a good time, and snuck into Monument Valley and saw the shrines. That was way cool, I mean, I’ve seen those busts since I was a little kid, and to be standing right in front of them in person, I found that to be pretty emotional. That was quickly shattered by a “HEY, WATCHA DOING BACK THERE, GETTHEHELLOUTOFTHEREBEFOREIKICKYOUOUTMYSELF”. That was the only hassle I had in my entire time in New York. Well worth it.

  60. brautigan Says:

    Seattle has a nice stadiuim. My first game there was the future’s game in 2001.

  61. Cameron Says:

    Have you been to Kaufman since the renovations, John? Really spruced up the place.

  62. John Says:

    I was there in mid 2009. It was wonderful; small, love the fountains, and I also love the green landscape. With an emphasis on cityscapes, it’s refreshing to see a couple parks (Cincy being the other) with a different feel.

  63. Cameron Says:

    The interior’s really been done up since then, along with the outfield. There’s all sorts of stuff for the kids and a sports bar in RF. Very cool. Also, five dollar bleacher seats on Monday.

  64. brautigan Says:

    I know where I would be every Monday night.

  65. Cameron Says:

    Paying for a bleacher seat and getting plastered in right field? That’s par for the course.

  66. Hartvig Says:

    I’ve been to:
    Tiger Stadium
    Comerica
    Metropolitan (the older Twins stadium)
    the Humprey Dome (otherwise known as the HUMP)
    Wrigley
    old Comiskey
    new Comiskey (now U.S. Cellular)
    Anaheim Stadium
    Busch II
    I had tickets for a Royals game at Kauffman but couldn’t go at the last minute

    I’ve also been to games at Ned Skelton in Toledo (MudHens), Sec Taylor in Des Moines (Iowa Cubs), Joker Marchant in Lakeland (Detroit’s spring training and Class A franchise), old & new Veterans Memorial in Cedar Rapids, Riverview (now Alliant Energy) in Clinton, IA, Community Field in Burlington, IA.

    While the best baseball I’ve seen was in Tiger Stadium the 2 best places I’ve been to to watch baseball were Woodman Field in Davenport, IA & Midway, home of the St. Paul Saints- those boys know how to have a good time up there. I hope to get to Target Field this summer.

    Of course, the Humphrey Metrodome was the worst place to see a baseball game in the history of mankind.

  67. brautigan Says:

    I’d be getting autographs too…….:)

  68. Cameron Says:

    I think security’s pretty lax about people moving sections down to better seats. Before game when they’re taking BP, you should be able to get down to the front row and ask for signatures pretty easily.

  69. Cameron Says:

    I should know, I made it from mid-level to the front row over the course of half an hour back in ‘99.

    The ‘99 Royals were the best 64 win team ever. The Outfield of Damon-Beltran-Dye? Hell yeah.

  70. Lefty33 Says:

    “I have also been to both Veteran’s Stadium and RFK, but both for college football.

    Best Park is easily Petco.
    Worst is Oakland, easily.”

    I’ll still take the Vet over anyplace I’ve ever been to for biggest hell hole in Baseball stadium history.

    Seats in the 700 level were so high up that you would practically have to duck your head for the planes coming in on final approach for Philly International.

    Seats in the 200 and 300 level that were obstructed views behind concrete poles.

    Easily the slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwest escalators known to man kind. (When they were on and working.)

    Shitty echoing PA system.

    And I don’t even want to get into the Aramark food or the turf with spots in the outfield that were as flat as a speed bump.

  71. Chuck Says:

    I’ve been to Yankee Stadium I & II, Fenway, Shea, The Vet, every Eastern League Park you can think of, Chase Field, Anaheim Stadium, Hiram Bithhorn in San Juan and The Murf.

    I’ve played in Fenway, Shea, Memorial in Baltimore, and County Stadium in Milwaukee.

  72. Lefty33 Says:

    “I think I’d rather live in a market where there’s a well run minor league team and you can go to as many games as time will allow and you don’t have to break the bank to do it.”

    I agree with you 100% on that.

    I gave up on going to major league games after the strike of ‘94 until a family member game me free seats in the Diamond Club at CBP last year I had only been to minor league games since then.

    “I think it’s happened already to some extent in hockey and basketball might be showing a few cracks.”

    IMHO, I wouldn’t compare the NHL and NBA to MLB.

    The NHL problem is simply that buffoon Bettman has single handedly destroyed any relevance that league once had and it amazes me that he still has that job.

    MLB is fine as long as they can continue to exponentially grow the ancillary revenues (TV, online, merch) for the league and teams as that is where to me all the growth is at.

    As of now MLB is in the best shape financially it has ever been in and if the league and the MLBPA have any brains they will look at the NBA, NFL and remember 1994 and hopefully will come to a quick CBA extension sooner than later.

    While Baseball ticket prices are nuts for Yankee stadium, an average week night at three-quarters of the parks in the league is still a highly affordable night out especially when you compare the prices to NBA and NFL games.

  73. Raul Says:

    That’s pretty awesome, Chuck.

  74. Lefty33 Says:

    Just to add the major league places I’ve been to:

    The Vet, Three Rivers, PNC Park, Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium II, Memorial Stadium, Skydome, Olympic Stadium, Fenway, Safeco, and The Kingdome.

  75. Hartvig Says:

    Shit I forgot about County stadium in Milwaukee & I’ve been to more games there than anywhere except Tiger Stadium & maybe Wrigley. Best ballpark food I’ve come across by a considerable margin.

  76. John Says:

    I agree Lefty, I just wasn’t counting it because I hadn’t seen baseball there live.

    I used to dislike watching day games on TV when they were at the Vet. The bright green turf was blinding when coupled with bright sun.

  77. Bob Says:

    Chuck, did you get my East preview report yet? Having issues with my computer right now. Thanks

  78. brautigan Says:

    Let’s see:

    major League parks:

    Seattle Kingdom, Seattle Safeco, The Stick, Murph, BOB (Arizona), The old Philly Vet, Miami’s vet, Oakland Coliseum.

    Minor League parks:

    Trenton, Scranton Wilkes-Barre, Richmond, Durham, Charlotte, Salem (Oregon), Bend, Fresno, Sacramento, Tacoma, Reno, Tucson, Visalia, Stockton, Bakersfield, Modesto, Hickory, and Portland (Oregon).

    I’m sure I have forgotten one somewhere.

  79. Bob Says:

    Damn, I blow. Just Tiger Stadium, Fenway Park the old Yankee Stadium and Shea. Minor league parks. Toledo ( Tigers) and Lowell and Pawtucket Sox) I want to go to Camden Yards and Wrigley Field.

  80. brautigan Says:

    I knew I forgot a couple: Salt Lake City and the old Yankee stadium.

  81. Cameron Says:

    “As of now MLB is in the best shape financially it has ever been in and if the league and the MLBPA have any brains they will look at the NBA, NFL and remember 1994 and hopefully will come to a quick CBA extension sooner than later.”

    I wouldn’t say the NFL is a good model. Their CBA is about up and the owners and players are nowhere close to an agreement. Next season may be locked out.

  82. Lefty33 Says:

    “I wouldn’t say the NFL is a good model. Their CBA is about up and the owners and players are nowhere close to an agreement. Next season may be locked out.”

    I never said that the NFL or NBA is a good model.

    I was saying that hopefully the owners and the MLBPA look at those two leagues that are both heading towards probable lockouts or work stoppages and also remember ‘94 when MLB lost the post season and they get some sense in them to take the high road and get a deal done.

  83. Raul Says:

    The NFL is a better model than MLB.

    Whether you think it’s good or not is another matter. It is better though.

    Happy Birthday Ron Cey.
    17 seasons in the bigs.
    .261/.354/.445 with a 121 OPS+

    Cey was a 6 time all-star, 1981 World Series Co-MVP and part of one of the best infields in history with the Dodgers.

  84. Bob Says:

    Donald Trump told a couple of reporters that he is interested in buying a majority of the Mets.

  85. Raul Says:

    Donald Trump is a business man with no sense for baseball.
    The Mets would be a 35 million dollar payroll team with an insane profit margin.

  86. Bob Says:

    I doubt it. If the Mets under Trump had that paltry a payroll, the people of Queens would boycott and revolt. Plus let’s be realistic here. The Mets will most likely need at least 3 years before they are going to contend for anything, and that is not Trump’s fault, like him or hate him.

  87. Raul Says:

    It’s gonna take a lot more than 3 years for the Mets to contend.

    They’ve got nothing in the minors. If Strasburg was healthy, I’d peg the Mets for a last place finish in 2011.

  88. Cameron Says:

    I’m with Bob. His APARTMENT is worth 35 million, the Mets would be worth more than that.

  89. Bob Says:

    I said AT LEAST 3 years.

  90. Bob Says:

    In Red Sox news, pitcher Robert Coello was traded to the Cubs for second baseman Tony Thomas. And DSL pitcher William Abreu was suspended for 50 games for PED usage.

  91. Chuck Says:

    I got it, Bob, thanks.

  92. Chuck Says:

    “Donald Trump is a business man with no sense for baseball.”

    So, he’d fit right in with every other owner.

  93. John Says:

    Not the job of an owner.

    In any sport.

    Wanna know who owns the Super Bowl Champs?

    112,000 of my closest friends.

  94. Cameron Says:

    Yep, gotta love grandfather clauses. I wish I lived in Green Bay. As a non-resident, I can’t have a stake in the team.

  95. Raul Says:

    I hate Tony LaRussa.

  96. John Says:

    We know.

    Why now?

  97. Cameron Says:

    …I have to give credit to Pujols’ agent. One deal he proposed included a minority ownership in the team.

  98. Raul Says:

    Because he always has to open is fucking mouth and just….I want him to go away.

  99. Cameron Says:

    Personally, I like La Russa. Yes he’s quick to yank starters and he kinda screwed the use of relief pitching. But I like the guy because he knows how to win and I really like his approach to a team. Like Colby Rasmus. If the kid wanted out that bad, Tony said don’t let the door hit you on the way out. He’s not taking this ego crap from the new generation of spoiled kid players. He knows how to make a winning team and keep his players behind him.

    Again, personal opinion. Not the greatest manager in the world, but I like him.

  100. Raul Says:

    Really dude?

    Mr I Had a Bunch of Players Using Steroids But I’m Going to Defend Mark McGwire and I had No Idea He was Juicing and Fuck Jose Canseco, Tony LaRussa?

    You like THAT guy?

    LaRussa’s the biggest douchebag baseball manager ever. I don’t blame Rasmus for wanting to get out from underneath that scumbag.

  101. Cameron Says:

    To be honest, I don’t care if guys are douchebags sometimes. Billy Martin? COMPLETE douchebag, same with Steinbrenner. I don’t hold this game to some higher moral standard and I take guys who are great at their job and remember them for what he does, and that’s put out a winning team.

    As for managers who had steroid users playing for them in the 80s and 90s? Here’s a short list.

    -All of ‘Em

    Don’t hate. 8)

  102. Raul Says:

    Yeah, but all of them weren’t outspoken assholes.

  103. Cameron Says:

    Being outspoken is something I like in someone. La Russa’s a bit outspoken (his comment on the MLBPA pressuring Pujols into a big deal was a bit out of left field), but at the end of the day, you’ll remember La Russa. Managers come and go, guys like La Russa are once in a generation.

  104. Kerry Says:

    Raul: “For the record, I don’t think the Cardinals should give Albert Pujols a 30 million dollar per-year contract.

    Yes, he’s great.
    Yes, he might be a once in a generation talent.

    It is simply too much money to tie into one player.”

    Speaking as a Cardinal fan, $30M/year doesn’t bother me too much if the contract is not too long (3, maybe 4 years at most). It’s the 8 to 10 year deals given to 31-year-olds that are really crazy.

  105. Raul Says:

    2010 Payrolls

    Cubs: 144 million
    Cardinals: 94 million
    Astros: 92 million
    Brewers: 90 million
    Reds: 76 million
    Pirates: 39 million

    The Cardinals should be able to spend more, but how much more?
    And is Pujols convinced the Cardinals will have enough talent and money to win?

  106. Kerry Says:

    Raul: “Well, from 1967 to 1976 Rusty Staub put up an OPS+ of 137. That’s very impressive for a stretch that long, and it’s better than any 10 year stretch Tim Raines posted.”

    The problem with OPS or OPS+ is that it doesn’t include anything about base stealing. For most players (like Staub) it doesn’t matter much, but someone like Raines adds a lot of value with the SB (I’m with John Bowen on this one).

    I came up with a modified OBP/SLG that includes SB and CS, so that OPS can account for base stealing: subtract a time on base for each CS, add a total base for a SB and subtract a total base for a CS. You can do a similar thing for AVG (subtract a H for each CS) to get a modified slash stat. For example,

    Raines’ .294/.385/.425 converts to .277/.370/.497 (an OPS increase of 57 points!), while Staub’s .279/.362/.431 becomes .276/.358/.432 (Staub didn’t run much, so there was little change for him).

    In career OPS+, Staub had 124, Raines 123, but after the SB/CS addition, I estimate that Raines goes to 136, with Staub at 123. For his peak period (1981-1990), Raines’ OPS+ goes from 132 to about 149.

    Chuck: “When putting together a list of the top five guys screwed by the HOF, Staub is on it.”

    I’m surprised you think that considering the time he spent at DH or as a PH (more than 20% of his PA). 2700+ hits is very good, but still…

  107. Raul Says:

    Kerry,

    My point isn’t that Staub belongs in the HOF and Raines doesn’t.

    It’s that it certainly doesn’t appear that Staub is really any worse a candidate than Raines is.

    But people act like Raines’ election should be a no-brainer. Staub doesn’t even get 30 seconds of consideration.

  108. John Says:

    And if Raines had no mobility, he would get the same amount of consideration.

    But he’s either the best or second best baserunner ever. That’s more than just a nice plus.

  109. Bob Says:

    If Raines had the same amount of mobility as Staub, he would have been out of the league the second his cocaine issues became public.

  110. Kerry Says:

    Raul,

    I understand you aren’t saying Staub is better than Raines. But I do think the reverse is true, mainly due to added value from base-running, which is where we disagree (apparently).

  111. Chuck Says:

    “But I do think the reverse is true, mainly due to added value from base-running,,”

    For the millionth time…”baserunning” and “basestealing” are NOT the same thing.

    Staub had more DH AB’s than I remember, so, maybe I should knock him to a somewhat lower pedestal, but he was still a better player than Raines.

  112. John Says:

    Ok, Chuck. How was Raines a bad “baserunner?” Did he not go half way on flyballs when he was at first. Did he constantly ignore 3B coach’s signals?

    “he was still a better player than Raines.”

    Sure. If you ignore every facet of baseball besides total number of hits.

    As a baseball fan, do you hate it when your favorite team has a guy sitting at second with nobody out? Do you see a walk+stolen base and think to yourself, “gee, that wasn’t all that valuable”?

  113. Raul Says:

    I just realized, I never heard of Joe Ferguson before.
    And the Dickie Thon story sounds a lot like Conigliaro.

  114. Chuck Says:

    “Ok, Chuck. How was Raines a bad “baserunner?”

    Where did I say he was?

  115. brautigan Says:

    Raines again?

    And again?

  116. Hartvig Says:

    Ferguson came up at the same time as Steve Yeager and both were part of Lasorda’s remarkable 1970’s Dodgers teams with the Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey infield. I remember there being quite a bit of controversy at the time over who should start. Yeager was a better defender and had an arm almost on par with Johnny Bench. Ferguson, on the other hand, was more the prototype for Scioscia or Posada: a good hitter who could play catcher well enough to justify playing him. In the end, Lasorda decided he could make up for Yeager’s lack of offense elsewhere. If the National League had adopted the DH in 1973 like the American League did there is no way Ferguson ever leaves the Dodgers.

  117. Raul Says:

    That’s awesome, Hartvig.

    Thanks

  118. Cameron Says:

    Cardinals fans, don’t fret just yet. St. Louis still has exclusive negotiating rights until five days after the World Series ends. If the Redbirds sit October out, they still have a month to hammer out deals.

  119. Hartvig Says:

    Or they have five days to figure out how to explain to their fans why they low-balled the reigning Divisional series, LCS and World Series MVP. I know baseball salaries are nuts but if Rosenthal is right (a big if, I know) they were offering less than Matt Holliday & Dennys Reyes combined salaries. There’s a chance- if someone is crazy enough to pay Prince Fielder’s asking price- he would be the firth highest paid first baseman. There has got to be something between that and $30 million a year for a decade that they both can live with.

  120. Kerry Says:

    Chuck, Regarding base-running vs. base-stealing, I agree, I was not being precise in my wording.

    On base-running, Raines did take the extra base 50% of the time, better than average.

  121. Cameron Says:

    I think it was 19-21 MM annual, unspecified length.

  122. John Says:

    The Cardinals may want to take the gamble.

    He might be worth that 30 million/year. 25 million or so to have him and 5 million to keep him away from the Cubs.

  123. Cameron Says:

    If the Mets sell ownership (especially to Trump), I could easily see Albert being a Met. Best player in the game in the biggest market? Kind of a perfect fit.

  124. Mike Felber Says:

    Raines could walk or even steal on water, & some would still a-Raines the facts to Rain on his HOF Parade. Even with his decline, you simply have adequate career value, & plenty of peak value, to put him in.

    When you are a good hitter & so historically great at SB, there is no way to get around his true value.

  125. John Says:

    Haha, Mike.

    Those of us who want Raines in put a lot of stock in his ability to reach base and run. There are three players, all-time, with above a .360 OBP and 750+ stolen bases. The other two are Ty Cobb and Rickey Henderson.

    To me, that shows how rare and extraordinary a player like Raines is/was.

    To Chuck, that’s just a fun tidbit.

    No one’s convincing anyone.

  126. Chuck Says:

    “There are three players, all-time, with above a .360 OBP and 750+ stolen bases. The other two are Ty Cobb and Rickey Henderson.”

    If either Cobb or Henderson had an OBP below .360 or less than 750 stolen bases, they’d still be HOFers.

    “No one’s convincing anyone.”

    Not trying to convince anyone, just pointing out the error of your ways. I could care less if you agree with me or not.

    Or the BBWAA for that matter.

  127. John Says:

    If Cobb or Henderson had an OBP under .360 they would be … completely different ballplayers. Would a Ty Cobb who hit .290/.360/.400 still be in the HOF because his name is Ty Cobb?

    And they wouldn’t have stolen as many bases either…because they wouldn’t have reached enough to run.

  128. Raul Says:

    Tim Raines isn’t anywhere near Ty Cobb’s league.

    In fact, if Ty Cobb woke up with Tim Raines’ career numbers, he’d run into the stands and punch a fan in the face……and then kill himself.

  129. John Says:

    No one said he was.

    Just saying…it takes a special player to do what Raines did.

  130. Raul Says:

    I was looking for an excuse to write that 2nd part, John.
    Because I was LOLing at it myself.

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